Interview With Bloc Handmade Bromsgrove
BLoC handmade makes unique handbags from recycled materials. I use materials such as leather jackets and jeans to create one of a kind bags. The items I work with are a combination of donated/charity shop finds – as long as they are second hand I will incorporate them into my designs. As a result, my handmade handbags have as many of the original elements as possible, whether that’s zips, buttons or pockets.
How did you get into this industry?
My business idea started at home. I’ve made my own clothes for years, and in 2019 I made a denim jacket entirely from jeans I had bought from a charity shop. During the process I realised that reusing old clothing was a fantastic way to make fashionable items that weren’t harming the environment. Plus, the sense of satisfaction was huge!
So I went back to get more old clothes that were going to waste and set about making a handbag. A couple of attempts later, I produced a bag that looked great. And it wasn’t only me that thought so –the feedback from my family and friends was that they thought it looked great too. And so BLoC handmade was born…
How did you start your business?
After I’d made my first successful bag and decided that I might actually have a good business idea, I set about creating a small collection of bags that I could launch with. So I worked as much as I could on creating new bags (I work full time too, so my sewing time is limited to evenings and weekends), and by the end of 2019 I had 10 really great looking bags, all handmade from recycled materials.
Early 2020 I started work on actually looking into how I was going to get my business started – I found someone to set up a website for me, and sorted out all the things I needed in addition to actually making the bags. By 14 April everything was ready, and BLoC handmade was launched.
What do you enjoy most about being in your business?
All of it! Obviously sewing is a passion of mine anyway, but working on the bags is totally different to anything I’ve ever done before. When you’re making garments, you choose your pattern and your fabric, you cut out your design and off you go to your sewing machine. However, it can be quite a challenge to create something new from something that already exists, sometimes it feels like a jigsaw puzzle! But I like that about it, it forces me to think outside the box.
Since BLoC handmade officially launched I’ve been asked to work on a couple of custom orders which has been really cool to do – one in particular was a surprise birthday gift, so I gathered as much information as possible about what the recipient looks for in her ideal bag, and worked together with the customer to make sure I incorporated as many of these design features as possible into the end product.
What is the best USP about your current business?
I think there are two! Firstly all of my bags are made from recycled materials, and often materials that would probably have ended up in landfill – my bags are all sustainable and eco-friendly. Also, all of my bags are a one of a kind creation – no two bags are the same! So if you want a bag that no one else has and want to lower your carbon footprint, you should definitely check out what we have to offer.
What is your favourite local restaurant and shop?
Indian food is my favourite, so for a local restaurant I would pick Spices in Catshill. I highly recommend! The food is delicious and the service is fantastic. I think my favourite shop is Willowbrook Garden Centre -as well as really good quality plants, they have an excellent gift shop which is always worth a look round. Willowbrook really did Catshill proud during the lockdown with their click and collect service – it was brilliant!
What exciting things are happening in your business?
Its changing all the time – at the time of writing the online shop has been open for 2 months, and the bags I have for sale now are totally different to the bags I started off with. I have so many ideas! So there is always something new to see. I like to post work in progress on my Instagram stories, so if you are interested in seeing how the bags are put together – starting from dissecting a pair of jeans through to a bag making its debut in the online store, be sure to check out my Instagram account.
What motivates you?
Creating something entirely new from something used – when I start with an old leather jacket and a pair of unwanted curtains and I end up with a great looking bag I absolutely love it – and it just makes me want to make more and more! The fact that all my bags are made from recycled materials too is obviously a huge feel good factor – my bags are one of a kind, and kind to the planet too.
What would you say would be your biggest achievement to date?
My biggest achievement is turning BLoC handmade from an idea into a reality. It was a bit daunting at first, I’ve never set up anything like this before. And there is so much that you have to take into account and sort out, it’s not just about making bags – as I soon found out! Luckily for me I’ve had some great help and advice along the way. Now I’m 2 months in and its going really well, I’m really excited to see what the future holds for BLoC handmade!